This weekend I was invited to the launch of a boutique in Middlesbrough so I put on my stonewash jeans, packed up my Tom Ford tote and off I set.
It’s less of a new launch and more of a “coming together”. The boutique I’m visiting is called Dainty Lou and it’s recently moved into shared premises with another local boutique called Dolly Rockers.
Dainty Lou owner, Leah Kirby, had been trading out of the Forbes Building in Middlesbrough for some time before deciding it was time for a move. Leah says that the Forbes Building is on the outskirts of town and just didn’t get the footfall of other, busier areas of Middlesbrough. The clothing she makes herself is stocked in various fashion boutiques in the region, one of which is Dolly Rockers on Baker Street. She struck up a friendship with Leigh Gallacher, the owner of Dolly Rockers and a fashion and accessory alliance was born.
Baker Street, Middlesbrough has a cool, urban feel to it, lined with independent boutiques, vintage stores, record shops and funky hair salons it’s hard to miss This joint boutique. The front of the building is mint green and pink, alluding to the kitsch products you might find inside and the window display filled with vivid colour and kooky frocks.
I’m greeted by cupcakes, fizz and the friendly faces of Leah and Leigh who tell me that it just made sense for Dainty Lou to move into the same premises as Dolly Rockers; the boutique is small and interesting, there are fixtures and fittings made from crates and a vintage till and suitcase in the front section which makes up the Dolly Rockers brand. At the back of the store is Dainty Lou, it’s a clean and uncluttered space with a studio feel and there are vibrant prints on display. Leah makes most of the clothing herself at home and buys in around ten percent of what she sells from local North East manufacturers or fashion students. There’s a real eclectic mix in Dainty Lou, from ice cream and unicorn print tees to gingham co-ords and some real quirky swimwear.
Leah makes the jewellery she sells in-store too and she tells me it’s been really popular with customers, there’s a mix of rings, bracelets, pendants and necklaces and in the run up to Festival Season Leah is stocking flower crowns and metallic tattoo’s that are guaranteed to sell out. There’s a feature wall of necklaces in picture frames, Leah tells me she wanted to put them out on display but wanted it to be different from a regular, run of the mill jewellery display. Dainty Lou also stocks bath bombs, wax melts and candles and Leah tells me that these are all good sellers. Customers of Dainty Lou are encouraged to send in their selfies wearing items from the store and in return they’re rewarded with a £5 discount off their next purchase, customers are loyal and there’s a feeling of community here, it’s apparent when customers arrive in store and Leah instantly recognises them.
Dolly Rockers is a little different. Leigh buys in most of her stock, including some of Leah’s designs, her love of faux fur is evident as there are various faux fur and faux fur-trimmed pieces around the store in shades of pastels. Leigh also makes feather trimmed bags in a variety of colours (in fact she’s working on an orange one as we speak, it’s for herself and it’s for a big night out). There are re-worked vintage pieces including some really cool original Christian Dior silk shirts that have been re-worked into cropped shirts with hoods, with their seventies and eighties style prints they ‘re perfect for SS15.
If you’re in or around Middlesbrough then the Dainty Lou and Dolly Rockers store is definitely worth a look, there’s a real eclectic mix of clothing and accessories and the girls are friendly and happy to give advice, and if you do happen to visit, don’t forget to upload your selfies to the Dainty Lou website for a discount off your next purchase!
For more information on Dainty Lou visit www.daintylou.co.uk where you can also shop online
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